NFU to USDA: Open up CRP

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) -- The National Farmers Union and state affiliates in the Northern Plains are calling on Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to allow emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program acres.

In a letter to Perdue, National Farmers Union wrote that farmers and ranchers in the upper Great Plains are facing significant drought. Specifically, the state Farmers Union presidents of Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota joined NFU President Roger Johnson in signing the letter.

"Reports from our members have painted an alarming picture of deteriorating feed supply," the letter stated. "While recent rainfall has helped, it has done little to significantly alter conditions in the long term."

The threshold under the Drought Monitor Index has not been released for allowing haying and grazing on CRP, but the NFU letter stated that hay is in short supply right now. "Many producers are left with the difficult choice of downsizing their herd or driving hundreds of miles to purchase hay."

Typically, USDA approves emergency haying or grazing of CRP acres when an emergency authorization is approved by the national Farm Service Agency office or by the state FSA committee using the Drought Monitor.

NFU asked Perdue to approve the emergency grazing as soon as possible. Waiting until August would leave the grass with a lot less nutrient value, the group stated.

If approved, landowners who request emergency haying or grazing are assessed a 10% payment reduction.

Minnesota has 1.13 million acres in CRP, Montana has 1.36 million acres, North Dakota has 1.53 million acres and South Dakota has 978,000 acres.

Chris Clayton can be reached at

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